Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Reader's Diary #1063- Sara Gruen: Water for Elephants

When I realized that Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants was told as a series of flashbacks from an elderly person, I was a little concerned. I had just recently read Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, also told from an elderly person's perspective. Was my subconscious or a higher being trying to prepare me for aging? Knock it off, universe, I'm not even middle-age yet (at least, I hope not!).

To make matters worse, I enjoyed it! Told from the perspective of one Jacob Jankoski, a 93 year old man now in a retirement home, recounting his days in a traveling circus— memories sparked by the announcement that a circus is being set up next door to the home. Set during the Great Depression, the overarching theme seems to one of luck; when it's bad luck, persevere and be patient for the good luck (should it ever come). 

Jacob is flawed, but not so much that he ever becomes unlikeable and most of the other characters are believably complex, even Rosie the Elephant. The settings are fascinating (I was as interested in the retirement home as the circus). And the love story is beautiful. Occasionally, it's predictable (Jacob is forced to be roommates with a little person, who first appears to resent Jacob's presence, but of course they eventually become friends) and while I was content with the ending of the flashback, the wrap-up of the present day frame story felt more implausible and forced. Still, these are minor complaints and honestly, I looked forward to reading it. 

(This was the first time I borrowed an eBook from the local public library and the experience was great. I'd definitely do it again. Do you or have you borrowed eBooks before?)


Heather said...

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the audio version of this book. In fact, I listened to it twice. As it began, I was thinking I had made a mistake but then figured I should give it a chance and listen for at least the hour and a half drive that I had ahead of me. I was hooked by the time I reached my destination.

I really must get my review written and posted. I want to spread the word about this book. ps. my grandmother echos some of Jacob's complaints about the retirement home.

Teena in Toronto said...

I borrow ebooks from the library all the time. I love it!

Melissa Wiebe said...

I borrow e-books on a regular basis, especially when I am not home; a very good way of keeping up your reading without having to spend a lot of money.